The Lack of Connection in Vancouver, B.C.

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Since I began writing, I’ve looked at the world through different glasses. I create stories about people while they talk to me. Maybe it’s because people don’t really give too much of themselves away. It opens the door for me to play creativity.

On a grand scale, I make up stories on why cultures do what they do. I have to find meaning on why the refugees in Germany bite the hand that feeds then by fondling females. I have to make peace by dreaming up how you could bomb a gay bar because someone doesn’t agree with who they’re loving.

I’m back in my home city of Vancouver, B.C. I imagined how good it would feel to be here but sadly, it was just another story in my head. I’m rewriting the chapter as a matter of fact. I went to a house party on the weekend and felt like I was suffocating in the pretentiousness. I put up a shield almost immediately. Thank god my life is something I’m proud of but I still felt less than I really am.

So my story for Vancouver is as follows. There are a lot of cultures here and no real connection to each except for the work life. Vancouverites don’t easily identify with each other. In the end, they shut themselves off and who could blame them? People are craving the opportunity to have a random chat with someone. To feel truly connected. If you think this is bullshit then why was the “free hugs” movement so popular?

Everyone is afraid to open up and reachout. To feel like they’re apart of something, people shop and follow hobby trends. I went to a kundalini yoga class last night which is all about energy. There was a total sense of togetherness and community. Does it take a yoga class to express who you really are?

I don’t exactly know how the story will end. Maybe the housing bubble will pop and people will lose everything. A fairly humbling experience, maybe the masses will know how it is to be vulnerable. Within the vulnerability, perhaps change can happen. I hope it doesn’t take a massive catastrophe in order for people to recognize they aren’t their Yaletown apartment or their overpriced Aritzia outfit.

Retirement for the Digital Nomad – Part 2 – Saving Up

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The first part of my digital nomad retirement segment was all about getting that passive income. This part is all about saving all that passive income you’re making. It’s a common habit for most of us to spend what we have. If you make more money, you may get more things or upgrade to a nice place to live. This isn’t going to help you with that retirement fund we’re talking about.

Keeping expenses in check is of course really important but when you’re a digital nomad, you tend not to emotionally over purchase. Your life is full in the sense that you got out from under the man’s repressive hand. I think that’s where most people spend big. A new Coach bag or BMW sports car on monthly payments will make you feel better about your sad, mundane life for sure. That’s a distant life story for the digital nomad, lucky you.

Still, being wise with your cash flow is part of the retirement plan of a digital nomad. Here are some methods I’ve found are useful.

#1. Break it all down.

I’m going to keep this relatively simple because a financial advisor I am not. I put 10% of my earnings away at a minimum and strive for more. When I do put money away or reinvest in my company, it gives me the same feeling as buying a Coach bag. I look at how much my current passive income is bringing in and how much I am putting away.

Every month, I am putting away two months of living retired. You do the math.

#2. Have a date with your cash flow.

Sit down weekly with your money and see if your account is growing or not. If the money isn’t growing, you’ll want to assess your budget plan again. This activity has a lot to being aware of your money situation. What are you doing that eats away at your finances. Dinners out? Like to shop?

#3. Do spend money on things that make you happy.

Let’s face it, you need stuff. If you’re a runner, you need new shoes for example. Buying something also keeps you in the feeling place of wealth which I think is essential to financial freedom. There are ways you can buy smart. If you really need something, why not buy it on eBay. I recently bought some Lululemon clothes on German eBay and they cost me about $40 CDN. At the store, I would have paid at least $200. Buy within your budget though, don’t take your eyes off the main prize.

#4. Get rid of the extras.

If you’re a digital nomad, do you really need cable? I have Netflix, it costs $6.99US per month. I may not be up to date on the Game of Thrones episodes but I’m also not paying $100 a month for that luxury. In case you haven’t forgotten, where you are right now was a choice because you’re free to go where you want as a digital nomad. Don’t get all the bells and whistles you don’t need, go explore.

#5. Daily expenses that kills.

You love your latte’s, fair enough. It really takes a chunk out of your finances to go have a latte at a coffee shop daily. Why not invest in an espresso machine at home? It will pay for itself quickly, plus you get to add in extra shots of espresso to your delight (at no extra cost). Have food in your fridge that excites you so you’ll be more prone to eating lunches at home. If you do business and incorporate coffee and lunch into your meetings, create a nice space in your home for people to visit.

#6. Work your a#$ off.

Take advantage of bringing in cash flow while you’re young and full of energy. Take on all the client work you can when it’s available. Keep on thinking up new ways of making money and roll with it. When you work really hard, you will see the rewards. Also, you don’t have time to spend money.

#7. DIY projects.

If you want to create outside garden furniture, organize your shop or have nice decor for a bare apartment, check out DIY blogs. Doing little projects on your own are rewarding and cost you much less than purchasing the latest and greatest things. You can even make gifts instead of buying them. People love the personal touch anyway. You may even find you can create your own blog about how handy you are and make extra money from it. Check you out, you’re on a roll.

Retirement For The Digital Nomad-Part 1-Passive Income

By | digital nomad, freelance writer, Professional Writing, travel goddess | No Comments

As I laid in bed last night just about ready to dose off, I thought “how does a digital nomad prepare for retirement?” It’s great when you’re young and have your whole life ahead of you but what happens later on in life? I know it’s not really in most of our mentalities to be concerned for the future. Even now though, I’m wondering about my passport renewal. Should I go back to Canada and do that? Renewal abroad is actually pricey but so is the plane ticket back home to renew it there. Any small glitch could have a major impact on our sometimes measly earnings. I am a writer so sometimes I’m really busy and other times, it gets slow.

Being a digital nomad has incredible rewards but there seems to be little protection in place for our future. We all dream of making millions and becoming humans of leisure but let’s face it, most of us live in cheaper destinations to work our dream jobs. It’s risky and we walk a bit of a tightrope with nothing to catch us if we fall.

So here’s my first bit of advice. Find a passive income path to follow. Something that will bring you extra money without you having to lift a finger (later). Being real, it’s a lot of work upfront to be successful and bring in a daily/monthly cash flow. You’re going to have to commit to something with all your heart, it’s pretty much like anything worth doing. Use this money as a retirement fund and continue your growth in whatever avenue you choose to take. Recurring monthly income so you can pay for the inevitable stuff like insurance, medical, visa extensions, plane tickets and buying a new hammock (high on my priority list). Things are always changing so grow with it.

#1. Build a blog.

Build up a blog that you’re passionate about and one that doesn’t cause you any stress. Be creative. Be yourself. Show your face to the world. Get some affiliate sales onto your site. Promote products that are in alignment with your message. With all of this in mind, your blog should have a specific niche. Costumes for teacup breeds, European old school recipes, sun hats etc. Something specific that you adore anyway.

#2. Write a book.

If you’re a digital nomad, chances are you’ve made some incredible findings in your life that have allowed you to get to this point. Don’t discount that you’re a trail blazer. People want to know about your life and how you got to where you are. Add a book to list of accomplishments by helping others achieve the amazing life you already have.

#3. Import. Export.  Drop Ship.

As a digital nomad, you’ve probably gone to some cool places and found some great markets/stores to shop. The interesting crafts that come from a certain country could be interesting to others. Take some pictures, post your findings online and be mindful of the interest you receive. There may just be the next hot item in the market you frequent. If you are lucky and get to spend your time in countries where products are cheap but quality, you may want to consider drop shipping. You sell the products (you don’t actually have in stock). When someone buys, you let the company know and they ship it.

#4. Create an online course.

Think about your expertise. What do you know inside and out? Creating a multi-media website with an online course attached to it is serious money. Make it a membership site that people for pay for on a monthly basis. Any of the yoga online sites are based on this. A lot of the make money and retire companies structure their companies in this way for easy $2,000 + per month. It’s a lot of work now but will pay for itself later. Again, find that niche and become the authority.

 

 

 

Best And Worst Places I’ve Lived As A Digital Nomad

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If you think about it, the original nomads moved around for food, water and warmer climates that prevented them from freezing to death. A digital nomad moves around in a similar matter. You have the freedom to move around in order to find a place that allows you to work enough that it sustains you. I’ve found some perfect spots for writing but the internet has sucked. I’ve found fast internet but the place is so loud, I can’t think. When you write enough, you get a sense of what environment motivates your artistic side.

Ko Samui, Thailand

Ko Samui

Friends will come and go in Ko Samui. There is also a structure here though like a variety of associations for expats to get together. As Samui becomes more about permanent residents, it gets easier to build a real life with real friends.

Ko Samui has white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Originally a hippy with rustic bungalows lining the beach, its now a 50-star island with an international airport. You can still find cheap eats and decently priced housing away from the beach, making it a pretty good place to set up.

Finding a peaceful spot on this island in the south of Thailand is not easy though. They also tend to have power and internet issues. The island hadn’t been wired for so many people to dwell there and it shows from time to time. There are plenty of places where you can get wifi in public places but the island doesn’t have the laid back attitude that allows for some peace and quiet. I wasn’t inspired to write and if I was, the internet and the noise were a deterrent.

Bang Saphan, Thailand

Bang Saphan

You’ll probably make friends with the locals pretty quickly. They’re well-educated Thai with some knowledge of the English language. They’re nice because they’re good people, not because they’re rip off artists. Falang (expats) are really nice too and hang out in a crowd. They’re an older crowd though so if you’re younger, you might feel pretty alone and bored here.

This ideal beach side area is a hidden gem in Thailand. Very few tourists go there and the Thai people are really down to earth. It’s a large enough town that you can get all of your amenities. It’s close proximity to Bangkok and the size of the village means there are a lot of options for 3G or 4G service. Their service plans are pay as you go and super cheap. You can purchase the USB and prepay at any 7-11.

The beach side area is 4 km from town so you’ll need a bike or a motorcycle to get your amenities. There are some reasonably priced cottages near the beach that are quiet and full of retirees. This might be the downfall to Bang Saphan. Life gets too easy. Once you’ve emptied out the ideas in your head due to the calm lifestyle, you run out of experiences. If you’re writing a book though, I’d recommend staying here for a year or so. It’s an idealistic place of calm.

Panama City, Panama

Panama City

There are plenty of expats as well as educated Panamanians that you can hang out with in Panama City. It’s a great place to party and hang out.

I was fortunate to hang out at my super successful digital nomad buddy’s place on Argentina Street. It’s the more expensive area in Panama City that’s close to lots of bars and eateries. When we didn’t work at his place, we would go to a high-end hotel to get some work done. This is something he taught me, you have to get outside when you’re a digital nomad.

The city was loud and congested. I did put my head down and get a lot of writing contracts while I was there but creatively I struggled.

Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica

Puerto Viejo

You will make plenty of friends. This seaside surfers paradise is full of wanders from all walks of life. Everyone is so friendly and willing to invite you to their parties, dinners and get together’s. You won’t feel alone for long in this positive little space by the sea.

Getting on a bike every morning, rolling through a jungle filled with howler monkeys and arriving at a pristine beach is good for the soul. While I was in Puerto Viejo, a Caribbean seaside village in Costa Rica, I was really inspired to be creative. Lovely little coffee shops with kind, positive people everywhere. It was perfection.

Sadly, there seemed to be way more stress than I imagined. The bank machines only let you take $100 out at a time but charge you a lot of money to withdraw. My landlord was a crazy, money hungry psycho and the food was really expensive. What began as inspiring ended up being a nightmare and I actually lost a job contract. The internet I had was a USB stick which I had to borrow from someone else. If you’re not a Costa Rican resident, they charge a lot of money for the stick. The internet was brutally slow and when I tried to use a hotspot through my phone, it was costing about $10 a day. I think Costa Rica is similar to the restraints you might experience in Canada or the US. I loved it but I found it hard to make enough money to live in the pricey country and the internet wasn’t digital nomad friendly.

Bavaria, Germany

Bavaria, Germany, Europe

You will make acquaintances that will help you out. It’s a reserved little village with people who have known each other all their lives. They don’t mind visitors but they don’t want to make new friends.

Waking up in this village that looks straight out of the Sound of Music is pretty inspiring. It’s a slow pace of life and they still continue to do things in a traditional way. I go down to a bakery every day and pick up fresh bread and buns. The butchery can tell you the name of the pig that was butchered. It’s peaceful, it’s magical and the internet is great.

If you were to be a full-time resident in Germany, you’d have to state you’re a freelancer and pay taxes on the money you make. As a writer, that’s not really realistic for me. Bavaria is a stop over as opposed to a place I’d live for good. It’s always been a good place for productivity with writing. I don’t get creative ideas as often as I would in a tropical location but I do get plenty of work done.

Haida Gwai, British Columbia, Canada

Haida Gwai

Yes, you will make friends. To the point it may be too distracting to work.

I did get a lot of brilliant ideas in the Haida Gwai but this has got to be one of the most difficult places to work as a digital nomad. People there use their hands for working. It’s a fishing and logging island. Nobody understood what I was doing online so I constantly got interrupted. We literally were forbidden to get internet at our place because some loggers had split on the bill at the address we lived at.

It’s really expensive for groceries because its so isolated so unless you’re a ballin’ DN, you might find it’s counterproductive to your savings. The internet is terrible, we’re talking dial-up terrible. If there’s a storm, the internet and the power is completely out. I loved this place but I didn’t get a lot done. I did write down my thoughts so once I got off the rock, I could bring the creative ideas I had to fruition.

 

 

Finding The Will To Go Beyond Yourself

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As I look at my life, I feel pretty fortunate for all I have. I remember shaking like a leaf as I purchased my plane ticket to Thailand back in 2012. I knew I wanted to live abroad and I was no stranger to the land of smiles. I was afraid I’d fail once I’d taken the plunge and once you have the taste for adventure, you can never go back. Looking back, I see that I went beyond my fears and just tried it out.

It didn’t work out in the way I thought it would but it’s still the adventure I was seeking. I started in Thailand which took me to Bavaria. I spent a lot of time getting to know locals in Czech and Austria.

I got to spend some real time in Costa Rica and Panama too. Living in Spanish speaking countries was great. After my time in Bavaria, struggling with the language, I was surprised at how quickly I picked up Spanish. Yay me.

There were times I wanted to go home because in many ways, it’s easier. In the end though, I’m not looking for easy. Perpetual sunny days by a pool doesn’t come from staying in Canada.

I don’t want to stop this journey. I accept the challenges that make me stronger.

Why Writing And Travel Go Hand In Hand

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European Winter

I often wonder why traveling prompted me into writing. I think it had a lot to do with right place, right time. I also wonder if it was inevitable. When you travel, you see life in a different way to that of the person who sits in one spot and acquires earthly “stuff”.

I wonder if creativity and the need for adventure go hand in hand. What I do know is the traveler sees many things in the world. Going somewhere new brings out the child like mind. Everything is fresh and many things get you thinking.

Costa Rican Winter

Poverty you witness  makes you appreciate where you came from. Traditions from other countries make you see what is missing from your own home. Answers come easily as one navigates the globe.

Traveling also makes you vulnerable. Nobody knows who you are. This builds character. This gives more insight into who you are which makes you a better writer.

Traveling is a tool to promote thought and creativity in a million little ways. I can’t say I’d have the same insight if I stayed in one spot.

Panama Winter

That’s me to the left. Strangers became dear friends quickly

Growing with the Industry of Freelance Writing

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When I first started freelance writing a couple of years ago, I noticed that I was a desired commodity. I didn’t have a university education in writing or journalism, I wasn’t an online marketing genius or a social networking whizz. I was a native English speaker charging very little as I wanted to grow my portfolio.

Clients were impressed immediately at the quality of writing they got for very little so I got really good ratings. I got better projects as I became more experienced. Interlaced with writing comes marketing so I naturally became more experienced in online marketing practices. I became savvy in writing things I knew would stick in the minds of people.

My clients were willing to teach me on a variety of marketing tactics. I got free courses that helped me create excellent content for soft sales. I learned all about SEO practices and allowing keywords to flow in articles.

I grew sick of ghostwriting. I wanted my name online and so I started writing for Lifehack. I loved writing for them anyway because sharing knowledge on how to live a great life is cool. Then, people were looking to pay me really good money to add their website link to my articles.

My career has naturally progressed in many directions. The industry is booming and I feel in many ways, I know the online content business in and out. Almost every company that is looking to grow is dependent on good content and marketing. I feel as though I can highly contribute to companies that probably wouldn’t have hired me as their receptionist a year ago. When I see available jobs like this http://vancouver.craigslist.ca/van/wri/5506939541.html?lang=en&cc=gb, I know I could obtain it.

I would rather maintain my standings as a freelancer of course. I still want to travel around the world. It’s amazing to know though that the work I’ve been enjoying over the years is much needed. This is my certain path in life.

Guest Post Placement Optimization

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I am noticing an influx of interest in clients that are looking to have me create a guest post on high traffic sites I’m associated with. Huffington Post, Forbes, Lifehack and similar sites are great tools to build a brand and get some traffic to your site.

It’s important that your guest posts be put on sites that legitimately get a lot of traffic. Also, it should be the kind of traffic that can lead to sales for you. Here are a few things you can do to determine the effectiveness a site will have on your website.

  1. Check out webpage title tags/keywords on a particular site you want to do a guest post on. Run the keywords through Google and Bing to see if the site shows up.
  2. Run the site through Alexa to see where it ranks. Alexa keeps track of how long a person stays on a site too. It the ranking on Alexa is high, people are spending time on the site which indicates they’re reading articles all the way through. This increases the chance that they will click on your link within the guest post.

Consider too whether the site has a social following. This is simple enough to do. If they have the Facebook or Twitter icons on the site, it’s clear how many followers they have. If for some reason, you can’t find the information on the site, do some investigating on Facebook or Twitter of the business name.

Keep in mind, a good guest post includes links that are of value. They shouldn’t just include your website. You want the guest post to be robust and full of interest.

 

The Quest for Lifehacker

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Right, so my mission for the new year is to get some of my articles on solid sites. I’ve had a lot of clients that have paved the way for this kind of success in my writing. I’ve gained a lot of insight and I think I’m ready to do the hard research and quality writing to get onto the big boys of blog. Everyone seems to have their reasons for getting on a big site. I have found it’s usually to add a link in order to sell something. I get it and part of my work has been to support

I don’t always agree with what I write and I sometimes wonder if all of this regurgitated information is good for society. I’m contributing in a way but if I had the choice, I’d do it better and this is my plan. This is a random article that I wrote in order to add a client’s company website link.

Check out my cheeky blog post on buzzfeed 21-ways-to-living-a-fabulous-life-on-ghetto-budget